Northern Nosh

The Twelve Tellers is one of the bigger, airier and more traditional Wetherspoons pubs in the UK – very well restored with wood panelling on the walls, wooden floors and old style tiles in the downstairs toilets accessed by a very narrow staircase. It is a Grade II listed building purpose built in the Baroque style for the Preston Savings Bank and opened in 1907. The public was served from behind a 65 feet-long counter by twelve tellers. It opened as a pub in 2015.

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There was the usual mixture of Wetherspoons clientele from chav low life’s, young couples and families through to old age pensioners and the odd stag do. The place was noisy with Northern banter and chattering children. Much like the clientele the menu was also identical to most other Wetherspoons pubs – certainly the same meals and offers as the one in Loughborough.

Tellers-1

The stained and curled menus stood with empty glasses, used paper napkins from previous diners at our table and a sticky metal holder containing the salt and pepper pots and favourite sauces such as  Heinz ketchup, HP sauce and Hellman’s mayonnaise. Our food came quickly and although the place was quite full it didn’t seem crowded because of the enormity of the inside space. The atmosphere was a bit chilly due to the air conditioning and the outside temperature taking an unusual drop during the day.

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Destruction of puddings in their prime

Siggy ordered the chicken version of the BBQ Hog Burger and I ordered the beef version. My mum (the reason we were in Lancashire) opted for a traditional steak and kidney pudding and destroyed its shapely form before I could whip my phone out to take a photo. My usual discipline in pre-eating food photography fell by the wayside for most of our day.

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Note that I have already eaten the lettuce and tomato and a lot of the cheese from my burger and also hidden the raw red onion (yuck) behind the bun…

Stick a wooden spike into the bun and it gives you license to put the word ‘Gourmet’ in front of the word burger. Wetherspoons would like you to think they do gourmet burgers but they don’t really; their burgers won’t blow you away – they take trends prevalent in other restaurants and then price up what they can put on a plate through bulk buying from their centralised catering suppliers. The result is something above McDonalds but not compatible to the likes of more upmarket dedicated burger restaurants.

That said, burgers came with generous amounts of tangy grated cheese and pulled pork. The onion rings were well cooked but not overly done, the chips crunchy and soft better than the chippy chips we had eaten for tea the previous evening from Empire Fish and Chips in Blackburn – more a Chinese takeaway than a chippy these days.

The chicken steak in the BBQ Hog Burger was a good size but somewhat overcooked and dry. My beef burger was well cooked but quite basic. My mum described her steak and kidney pudding as ‘lovely’ but I thought the pastry was a bit stodgy and the mouthful I had contained a bit of gristle so the ‘steak’ is obviously cheaper cuts. i think she has lower culinary standards than I do these days.

A few hours later after walking around the park we went to Leaf or Bean – a classy little coffee shop inside the Guild Hall Arcade in Preston. The deluxe chocolate was a dark rich hot chocolate that remained hot to the last drop despite the generous helping of mini marshmallows and layer of squirts cream on top. The service is friendly, prices reasonable and toilets okay too.

In the evening we went to Akash on 196-200 Duckworth Street, Darwen. We’ve been a couple of times now. Akash is very popular at the weekend and I would advise booking to save disappointment. Even when you have booked you might have to wait a few minutes they sort out a table for you. The restaurant is very big but has lots of staff, most of whom are very efficient and attentive to your needs.

Last year I had a very interesting chicken argebargi, which I got just because it had a funny name if I am totally honest. I am a bit of a curry connoisseur and I was not disappointed with this place. All our curries looked and tasted great, the rice was well cooked and nan breads and my paratha also very nice.

Prices of food and drinks seemed reasonable to what I am used to in the East Midlands and they do Mongoose beer which I think is a nicer beer than Cobra or Kingfisher. In comparison to Anaz just a few doors down I would recommend this one – the reason being is that we did not feel rushed whereas in the other place we felt like they could wait to get rid of us and ‘flip’ the table.

They both take your order before you sit down at the table – this seems normal in this neck of the woods but is rather odd for someone from the East Midlands. I ordered a special mix tikka bali bhuna because I liked the way it rolled off the tongue after a pint of Mongoose. Siggy ordered a chicken and mushroom Dansak with cheese and chilli nan bread, mum ordered her usual chicken biriyani and I missed what her friend ordered among the general chit chat.

It’s hard to make curries look sexy but here you:

This year the food came out very quickly even though the restaurant and the adjoining takeaway (accessed by another door) were really busy again. The kitchen must be super organised. The poppadoms were served with desiccated coconut, mango chutney, hot tamarind sauce, yoghurt and finely sliced raw onions.

We got an extra garlic nan for free by mistake so maybe the kitchen isn’t as organised as I first thought. The lamb in my special mix (like in a lot of Indian restaurants) was a bit chewy but I did get two big prawns in the mix and no tubular pieces kebab which I’m not a huge fan of. The bhuna sauce was quite mild with only a slight chilli afterburn but had a nice barbecue-y flavour and the onions were thinly sliced rather than in chunks.

The chapati bread was flowery and light. The puri – halfway between a chapati and a nan bread – was spongy like the bit you slice horizontally off a the lower portion of a Victoria sponge to get it to sit horizontally when filled. Both breads are certainly something to consider if you find nan bread too tough or parata too greasy.

Siggy’s dansak was thick and fruity with tender perfectly cooked chicken. I was polite and didn’t dip into the others’ dishes. We got sliced oranges at end of meal and complimentary   drinks – mainly Baileys and for the second time running I missed the trick of asking the non-drinking among us to ask for alcohol so Siggy and I could double-up on the freebies. Doh!

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